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Archives for July 2010

Monty chooses formidable captaincy line up

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Iain Carter | 15:04 UK time, Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Colin Montgomerie has always contended that Darren Clarke should have been in the last European Ryder Cup team, but his selection of the Northern Ireland player as a vice- captain for the 2010 match is a surprise.

In recent years they have not been thought to be close, even though they were partners for Clarke's European debut at Valderrama in 1997. It is their enduring mutual desire to beat America and regain the famous trophy that provides the common ground between the two men.

And getting Clarke on board is a real coup for Europe's skipper. He is the perfect supplement to the tactical intelligence provided by Paul McGinley and the passion and experience that Thomas Bjorn brings to the captaincy team.

It is, though, a great shame that Jose Maria Olazabal is not part of the set-up. At one stage the Spaniard was odds-on to be the captain for the 2010 clash and Monty's first move when he was appointed was to say that Olazabal would be part of his backroom staff.

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Oosthuizen's champion performance

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Iain Carter | 08:54 UK time, Monday, 19 July 2010

Louis Oosthuizen's remarkable St Andrews triumph provides further evidence that these days the Open is precisely what it says on the label.

That a 200-1 shot ranked outside the world's top 50 can so utterly dominate, shows that the oldest and grandest of the game's major events is a wide-open contest and not a domain exclusive to golf's perceived elite.

This was the biggest shock result seen in the 29 Opens played at the Old Course. Ironically, Oosthuizen's apparently nerveless display over four extraordinary days on the Fife coast turned it in to "the Closed".

Time was that only the very best golfer could win at St Andrews. Jack Nicklaus twice, Sir Nick Faldo and on two occasions Tiger Woods triumphed at the Home of Golf when they were at the very top of the game. John Daly was already a major winner when he won in 1995.

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Tiger's putter provides the talking point

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Iain Carter | 12:33 UK time, Tuesday, 13 July 2010

They were taking their seats well ahead of the announcement that Tiger was in the house. They were to be disappointed - unless they were interested in the contents of his golf bag for this Open.

Anyone who thought that Tiger Woods would open up about his private life in his first audience with the British press since his dramatic downfall was seriously misguided.

We witnessed another skilful performance from Woods. We always do at St Andrews. Usually it is when he is letting his clubs do the talking. This time it was when he was having to provide the chat.

And at his pre-Championship news conference it was no surprise to witness his tactics at shutting down any line of questioning that referenced his changed circumstances. But for once he did use the occasion to be somewhat revelatory.

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Lengthening restores Road Hole's true test

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Iain Carter | 17:21 UK time, Monday, 12 July 2010

The proverbial moustache on the Mona Lisa or a necessary change? Has the Old Course's most famous hole been vandalised or restored to former glory? This is the main debating point in the build up to the 150th anniversary Open at St Andrews.

Europe's two most recent major winners are at odds over the biggest change to the Old Course for the 2010 Championship. One thinks potential drama has been ripped away by extending the famous 17th, the other believes the move was vital to protect the integrity of the hole.

Less than a month on from his US Open triumph at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell bemoaned the R&A's decision to borrow part of a neighbouring driving range to extend the Road Hole by 40 yards.

"A lot of guys are not going to like it," said McDowell. "It's long, it's tough. I don't dislike it but it's ridiculously difficult. I don't think it was needed. It's a great hole."

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Blooming Rose all set for St Andrews

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Iain Carter | 13:00 UK time, Monday, 5 July 2010

The shadows were lengthening, the course was deserted, the action was over. One man stood on a green doing his most important work of what had been a very long day.

This was Justin Rose at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut, on 27 June. He had just blown the chance of victories in consecutive starts. To use his word, he was "gutted".

He had thrown away a four-stroke advantage heading into the final round of the Traveller's Championship. His putting had been atrocious and his success in his previous outing at The Memorial was suddenly looking rather less substantial - perhaps not much more than a one-week wonder.

Rose was inconsolable, even his toddler son Leo was struggling to put a smile on Dad's face. There was only one thing to do. It was to leave behind the family and discover where his putting touch had gone as soon as possible.

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